Our current episode of the Cultivate podcast is a conversation with Veritas alumna Victoria DeWeese, as she tells her story of how her faith in Christ survived a tumultuous time in college. Listen to the podcast here, or read on below!)
“Let us go forward with hearts of gratitude by not taking for granted the many benefits that God has bestowed upon us. The virtue of gratitude has been instilled in us through our education, so let us follow Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to continue in the things we have learned and, thereby, through our loving, serving, and thinking, live our lives to the glory of God alone.”
This is how our 2022 Salutatorian Paton Walters concluded his address to his fellow graduates during our commencement ceremony in May.
For any Christian parent, I am quite sure that Paton's charge here echos your deepest hopes for your children as they graduate - that through loving, serving, and thinking, they will live their lives to the glory of God alone.
For 18 arduous and beautiful years, you nurture your child's faith while they're at home. Give them room to stretch their limits and boundaries to protect and guide them. Pour God's love and His word into their hearts and minds. Maybe even enroll them in a Christian school so that the foundation you're laying at home is reinforced during the long hours and days they're in school.
But even at this moment, there are millions of parents around the country, many within our own school community, who are sending those kids off with bittersweet goodbyes. Standing in dorm rooms, at curbsides, waving from driveways - some with tears stinging your eyes - letting go and praying that all you've invested in their lives will stick as they head off to college, to the armed forces, and into the workforce.
A Faith That Sticks
Ty Fischer, Head of School at Veritas Academy, often says that his desire for his own daughters and for all of our students is that they have a "thick" faith that sticks with them through their whole lives. A faith with substance, on which they lean in good and bad times.
As we watch our kids grow into adults and we step back from our protective parenting roles, we know that they will face tests greater than any they have likely stared down before. It is inevitable. Whether in college, careers, or other stations in their journeys, they will encounter people and situations that will rock their world, and maybe even their faith. (P.S.- want to see some eye-opening data that proves how classical Christian education produces graduates who have a lifelong, solid faith? Read this post to see more...it's pretty amazing and encouraging for parents of classical Christian schools!)
In a recent conversation on our Cultivate podcast, Ty refers to that turning point moment that he and many other young adults face at some point. Even while attending a Christian college, he found himself in one of those faith crises.
"I kind of realized that I either need to have a biblical faith in Christ, or I'm going to step out into what I called the abyss, which meant that nothing really meant anything," he recalled.
In this Cultivate episode, Ty was talking with Victoria DeWeese, a 2013 graduate of Veritas Academy, who now serves as a volunteer on our Strategic Planning Committee and is a software architect with Fannie Mae. Before settling into her life as a wife, mother, and young professional, Victoria was a systems engineering major at University of Virginia. Unfortunately, the years she spent at UVA were among the toughest that institution has ever known. Suicides, violence, and shocking accusations thrust the college into the national spotlight, profoundly shook the student body and administration, and acutely touched Victoria's own circle and led many of her peers into that abyss.
Listening to Victoria recount her harrowing tale of those college years, and knowing that she came through on the other side still loving Christ and living for Him, can make any parent both white-knuckled and breathing a sigh of relief. Our kids may face crises, but when they are prepared in advance, they can make it through.
A Shield Against the Enemy
One way that we can help them is by teaching and modeling the importance of putting on the full armor of God.
In Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul says, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (emphasis added)
Build up their faith now, in the protection of your home, so that they know how to use that shield when they need it.
"It's not a blind faith that I have from all of these experiences," says Victoria in the podcast. "I know definitively why I believe what I believe. And that's actually a gift that I think has come through these experiences."
Victoria also credits her experience at Veritas Academy as being instrumental to building her faith to prepare her for battles to come.
"There were a couple of Omnibus classes that really helped me wrestle with hard issues and be able to deconstruct them and understand what was going on." She called out a few teachers in particular who took the time to work through some "really hard-hitting questions" with her, that helped her grasp "what were the underlying pieces that can bring you to a specific worldview."
And while Veritas Academy may have a reputation for exceptional critical thinking teaching and academic excellence, we are equally committed to a worshipful climate at our school that draws students and teachers to the heart of God. Because sometimes this kind of unshakable, lasting faith takes both head and heart knowledge.
In another blog post, Ty points to three ways that Christ is manifested daily at Veritas Academy, as we seek to keep him at the center of our school days:
- Christ as our focal point of life and worship
- Christ as Lord in our interactions and discipline
- Christ as the center of knowledge and wisdom
In this blog post, Ty Fischer says:
"In Colossians 1, Paul states that Christ is the Creator, the Redeemer, and the focal point of all knowledge, saying, 'in Him, all things hold together.' At Veritas, Christ is the center of Bible class because He is the center of the message of Scripture. He is also the center of all classes and of all studies. He stands behind the orderliness and beauty of Math; He made the Universe and beckons us to explore it and understand it, which helps us know and see Him better; His laws judge history as well as our own actions. When we read Hamlet or Camus, we work to view them through the lens of Christ’s ethic and teaching. As we work or play or act or sing, we encourage students to do all of these things for and in light of Him."
I won't pretend to be able to promise a set of dos and don'ts for parents of younger kids that will ensure your kids will have an unshakable faith when they grow up. Thankfully, scripture is full of promises, of words of truth we can speak into and pray over their lives.
Near the forefront of those is that armor of God. Pray daily that they will be ever-encircled with that armor, and that they will choose to dress properly in it as they grow and go. This is how you help prepare them for war. Because, make no mistake, they are going to war. They are going into a world that, with each passing year, becomes increasingly hostile to truth, beauty, and goodness.
The good news is that they can make it, and that they can make a difference in that world with the good news of the Gospel. Listen to our recent podcast to be encouraged by Victoria's story. You can hear it on your favorite podcasting platform, or via the links below:
Cultivate Listening Links: